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Showing posts from April, 2019

Year Four, Day 129: Letters to My Father

I wrote a letter to my father today.  I wasn't sure what I was going to say, but as I put the pen to the paper, the words appeared.
I talked about the beautiful warm, spring like day. And how I hoped he would get outside to see the flowers and hear the birds sing.
I told him how I went to the park yesterday with my daughter and granddaughter. My 20 month-old granddaughter who is the spitting image of her mother.  I asked him if he remembered her mother at that age. He was mesmerized by her from the moment she was born.
He didn't show love for me.  Perhaps it is that generation.  We weren't hugged or told that we were loved. But as I wrote to him I realized what an impact he made on not only my life, but countless others. 
My father taught me to play the piano. I was only three years old.  He taught me on an old upright piano in our small living room. I was so tiny, I had to sit on a Sears catalog to reach the keys. The keyboard was missing some of the ivory.  He had taken…

Year Four, Day 128: The Home Stretch

My heart is so heavy today. I have many things to share, but thoughts are mostly consumed with family, in particular my father.

He had a stroke a few years ago. A mild one. But on his followup appointment, it was discovered that he had Parkinson's disease.  My mother, a retired Registered Nurse has been a super hero as his caregiver. I have actually been more concerned about her taking on too much. He has thrived in her care. And I needn't worry about my mother. She is an optimist, a hard worker, an early rise - the backbone of our whole family!

My mother and I have been having breakfast together once a week for many years. But recently, since we discovered The Diner in Vancouver, we have been meeting twice a week.

It has been good for us. We talk about our accomplishments and our concerns. Yesterday we had a family dinner. My father walked very slowly into the restaurant, clinging to my mother's arm.  He sat quietly at the table. He sipped his ice water periodically and l…

Year Four, Day 127: Gluttonous Gluten Consumption

Today is my church pianist interview. Wish me luck! I am feeling fairly confident, especially since I was able to take a short nap this morning. 

I am experiencing what I believe is a gluten hangover.  I have been throwing caution to the wind lately, telling myself to just avoid sugar and not worry about gluten.  I get so weary of watching what I eat. 

And now I am suffering the consequences. Although the nap, and an iced tea at the bus stop did help.

Also, coming to my favorite place in the world - the library - is putting me in a good mindset. I needed to update my list of references and was pleased to find another Carson McCullers book in my "hold" slot.  It is called In a Golden Eye. I think I will reward myself for surviving today by having a nice, healthy GLUTEN FREE dinner after my interview. With my book for company.

And tomorrow I will go back on my cleansing diet:  Veggies, fruit, rice, a little bit of lean protein (like chicken) and copious amounts of water.

I am …

Year Four, Day 126: A State of Wow!

Today I am walking around in a state of "wow!"

First of all the weather is glorious.  More people are out and about than usual. More people are smiling. We Portlanders are a bit bipolar, tied to the rapid shifts in weather, perhaps.

Secondly, I rode the Max with some ecstatic Blazers fans last night. I watched highlights of the game, especially Lillards 3 point play at the buzzer. Maybe the big grins are attributed to Blazer fever more than a rare sun sighting?

Yesterday I did not dress appropriately for my trip to Portland. Hence, I found myself shivering at the Delta Park Transit Center at 10:40 p.m. last night, huddled with two men speaking rapid Russian in a bus shelter.  I wore only leggings, sandals, a long flowing tunic and a jacket.  It was drizzling. It was dang cold!

So today I wore legging underneath jeans, a long sleeved shirt and a leather jacket.  I am warm, but happy.

I hopped off the 105 I-5 Express bus about an hour ago downtown Portland.  I grabbed a large…

Year Four, Day 125: Two Strangers on the Bus

I think my gray hair is helping my social life.

I had two conversations on buses within the last hour with two random strangers. They just started talking to me like I was their best friend.

The first was a man about my age. He was carrying a guitar. He boarded with me downtown.  He first asked me where to catch the #14, then somehow segued into his favorite strains of marijuana.  He was reminiscing about his favorite weed: Thai stick, when he stopped mid sentence and asked if I smoked weed.

I told him I had a bit in college, but no longer smoke.  He nodded in compassion and then started talking about how they don't grow it like they do any longer. 

From there he started to tell me about his lazy roommate who drank all night, slept all day and never did the dishes. He was going into detail about his roommates habits. My stomach was starting to lurch. Not only from the vivid description of his obese, lazy, alcoholic, dirty roommate, but I also am prone to motion sickness.


Year Four, Day 124: Speaking of Heaven

Happy Easter!

He is risen!

And I am completely exhausted.

But happy.

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. this morning in order to get to Arm Stephen Lutheran church in Gladstone on time.  I ordered a Lyft ride.  I splurged and rode the entire trip instead of to the Delta Park Max stop.  I didn't want to chance being late.

I played two services today.

The first was a traditional service. I played only pipe organ.  I have been petrified all week. I told the pastor I am a pianist, not an organist. But that I have played the organ. I practiced on the organ at St. Stephen once. And twice at St. Mark's in Portland.

But every organ is different. The organ at St. Stephen has no preset stops. Which means I wish I had another hand to operate the stops while I played the two keyboards.  I also cheated and didn't play the foot keyboard. Shhh! Don't tell!

I learned how to use a 16 foot stop to give a nice deep sound.

I arrived in Gladstone about an hour early. I stopped at "Heavenly Donut…

Year Four, Day 123: It Was Quinoa!

I ended my last blog saying I was off to get the ingredients to make a millet tabouli. But alas, the grocery store I shop at in Vancouver did not have millet.

But they had quinoa.

I was in the checkout aisle, feeling a little lonely, with my 3 bunches of parsley, fresh mint, green onions, lemons, roma tomatoes and quinoa.

The checker must have sensed my condition. She smiled at me and started chatting about how tired she was.  I told her I hoped her shift ended soon.  She did look tired.  But her ttired eyes sparkled a bit when she told me she only had 90 minutes more.

Just then she scrunched up her face.

"I can't find the code for this..." she said holding up a bunch of parsley.

"It's parsley", I said.

"Hmm. That's what I thought. But it's ringing up as cilantro", she said, sounding perplexed.

I leaned over the counter. "Oh no!", I said with more alarm then necessary.  "I'm making tabouli. Cilantro would not do!"


Year Four, Day 122: Anthony Bourdain, The Philipines, A Millet Tobouli and Me

Sanctuary by William Faulkner is deep. And disturbing. It took me a bit to get into it.  I need to slow down my reading with this novel. 

I am taking a break from it. 

Deep and disturbing is not what I need today. Not when I am feeling depression creeping around the base of skull, squeezing my temples, scurrying across my chest...Oh I do need to put down the Faulkner for a bit!

I am alone this weekend. My daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter are on vacation. They even took the dog!  I was so looking forward to some time alone. Time to read, clean, relax, cook, hoop, work on my Qi Gong...

And I need it.  I get tossed about by the world. All the noise. Tone of voice, demands, unvoiced expectations and most of all my inner critical voice. That no one but me can hear. 

The Qi Gong is helping. 

But I took today off from teaching to rest and practice for the two Easter Sunday services I am playing this weekend. But the apartment seems so empty. And I felt so tired, I contemplated a nap. I…

Year Four, Day 121: There is a Book or Two in Here Somewhere!

I survived Palm Sunday as guest pianist/organist at a new church.

I will admit it now. I was extremely nervous.  I am always fearful of new situations. Especially interacting with new people. In this situation, I would be playing with musicians I had never met before.


So I did a wise thing. I got up super early, ordered a Lyft ride to the Delta Park Max station and then settled in for an hour trip to Gladstone. I was about to finish Dispatches From Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant. I had almost returned the book to the library without finishing it.

I am glad I decided to finish it. I must admit, it didn't grab hold of me like the previous book I read by Grant (God's Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre)

Perhaps there was not as much danger and suspense. I have a feeling I might go back and reread Dispatches From Pluto again someday. Mainly because I am fascinated with that part of the country; it's history and espec…

Year Four, Day 120: Not Letting Go of My Stamina!

I'm cold. Chilled to the bone. I am wearing my winter coat in the library as I type this.

I am also tired.  I have one more student, then I'm heading home to bed early. I will be rising early tomorrow to head out to the church I'm substitute piano/organ playing for.

I had an epiphany this morning. I finally understand my mother's behavior. She is chronically early to everything.  Today I purposefully headed out much earlier than I needed to before teaching piano class. I landed at a Starbucks near the Portland waterfront. I had a black Americano. No sugar, no cream. And oatmeal. It was most enjoyable to enjoy the morning. I sipped and contemplated. I was in no rush, because I had over an hour before my first class.

I decided to eat some crow, and call my mother. I have poked fun at her all my life for her early bird mentality.

"I have adapted your system", I told her when she answered the phone. She sounded puzzled. I explained.

"It took you long enough…

Year Four, Day 119: Small Spaces Do Not Scare Me!

Short on time today. I am here at the library printing recital music for piano students.  Then I off to teach.

I am keeping up with my daily exercise, reading and continuing to stay away from sugar, wheat and dairy.

I noticed this morning when I put on my boots that I had to tighten the laces.  My feet, which often ache and swell, have shrunk!

I'm also contemplating Martin Luther. I just picked up a book about his life from the library. I think I am I am rapidly becoming a Lutheran. More about that another time.

I also have discovered an interesting link between sugar and cholesterol. My mother and I are having frank discussions about nutrition.

I had two wonderful meals since I last blogged. One at the Veggie Grill downtown Portland:

The second one at the Jerusalem Cafe downtown Vancouver:

They were both delicious!  I do admit that I had some wheat at the Jerusalem Cafe. I had pita bread and a beer. It's been a long time!  That was yesterday. Today I feel a tad sleepy, but it…